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Safety

Inherently safer design at refineries proposed in California

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
July 25, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 30

California regulatory agencies are proposing a sweeping overhaul of worker safety and environmental regulations at refineries. A recent proposal would require the state’s 14 oil refineries to adopt inherently safer designs and systems “to the greatest extent feasible,” which is regulatory wording long sought by unions and community groups. The proposal would also give refinery workers authority to shut down an unsafe operation as well as allow anonymous reporting of safety hazards. Much of the proposal was based ona report and recommendations of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which last week urged that the proposal be adopted and serve as a national model for refinery worker protection and public safety. The proposal grew from years of state-agency-led meetings with communities, oil companies, and labor unions that followed a 2012 accident at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif., which sent some 15,000 nearby residents to hospitals. In a statement, the Western States Petroleum Association, a business group, notes its involvement in the meetings held to develop the proposal. But the association withheld comment while its member companies review the proposal.

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